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Benjamin Payne
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Benjamin Payne

Graduation year: 2017

Major: Multimedia journalism and mass communication

Activities: WAUG Augustana student radio, WVIK Augustana public radio, Augustana Observer student newspaper

Internship: WILL public radio in Champaign-Urbana

Post-grad plans: Having graduated from Augustana in the fall of 2016, I am currently serving a reporting internship with WBEZ radio in Chicago. After I complete this internship, I intend to continue pursuing a career in radio journalism, most likely at an NPR member station.

Why Augustana?

I chose Augustana because of its multimedia journalism and mass communication (MJMC) program. At the time I was transferring from community college to a four-year college, I knew I wanted to do journalism, but I didn’t know what kind of journalism. I knew Augustana’s MJMC program would give me the opportunity to explore different mediums.

Are you where you thought you’d be four years ago?

No! I originally entered college to study architecture. But after working with my community college's student newspaper, I caught the “journalism bug.” Once I transferred to Augustana, my journalism studies and extracurriculars solidified my decision to pursue journalism, and helped me develop my skills.

Who helped you get you to where you are now?

My academic advisor, Carolyn Yaschur, provided me helpful advice and always believed in me. Additionally, the staff at WVIK public radio—which is owned by Augustana and located on the college’s campus—let me contribute reporting as a volunteer, which provided me real-world experience.

A peak experience?

A peak experience was interviewing Stanley Hauerwas when he returned to Augustana to speak at the college’s Symposium Day. Hauerwas is a world-renown theologian who began his teaching career at Augustana. What made it a peak experience was the satisfaction I felt from having produced a feature story for WVIK on an important character to the college community that most of the station’s listeners had likely never heard of.

What surprised you?

I learned that I have the versatility to learn about a wide range of subjects unrelated to my journalism courses, thanks to the varied liberal arts curriculum at Augustana.

How did you use your Augustana Choice?

I used Augie Choice to fund an otherwise unpaid internship with Illinois’ first and only public radio talk show, at WILL in Champaign-Urbana. After serving this internship, I was able to use my experience as a springboard to later land a paid public radio internship, which I am currently serving.

What will you miss the most?

The college's beautiful campus. In particular, the slough path. It was always a uniquely secluded and tranquil place I could walk or bike through that helped me de-stress and reconnect with nature. I am sure the slough path is also the thing my dog, Remi, will miss the most, as I took him on countless walks there.

Advice for the Class of 2021?

Immediately start to look and apply for internships in your field of study. Take the initiative to reach out to companies and organizations in the field you want to pursue after graduation. Work with your academic advisor or someone with CORE to help you solidify a plan for your summer.

“Ben is a journalist in every sense of the word. He is engaged in the community, an enthusiastic learner and talented storyteller. In his journalism classes, Ben always was excited to reach out to the public, conduct interviews and report the information he learned in novel and interesting ways. He is smart, adaptable and an out-of-the-box thinker. When faced with a challenge or assignment, he pushes the boundaries and comes up with his own way of accomplishing it. The result is always interesting and insightful. I am confident in Ben’s continued success and that he will have a positive and lasting impact on his community.”

– Dr. Carolyn Yaschur, assistant professor, communication studies